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Breakdown: Supercharging the Talk ‘N Text Offense



By now, the narrative about the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters goes like this:

They have such a high-powered offense.

TNT remains to be one of the top offensive teams in the history, probably, of the PBA.

It’s always offense versus defense when you face TNT.

Okay, we get it. They probably didn’t have the stats to support those statements then (and probably won’t even take a look at it now, please don’t change), but in reality, when a team has a Castro, De Ocampo, Fonacier, Washington, and Kevin Alas on the bench, what else can you call them?

Did you know that for all the big names on the offensive end, the Tropang Texters still operate at a middling pace? For the elimination round, TNT just had a pace of 91.1, almost making it to the league average of 91.6. Opposite them, the Rain or Shine Elastopainters are operating at a better 96.3, one of the top paces.

Translate that into actual offensive numbers, TNT’s 91.1 pace generates the 2nd best offense with a 104.0 ortg, a full 1.1 points behind the NLEX Road Warriors. In the playoffs, the Texters took an already vaunted offense to a higher gear, as they have been registering a 111.3 ortg, while still operating at, give or take, the same pace (90.6).

Can you say “insane?”

But that’s not it. What’s highly unusual is that the team has not played its full offensive arsenal for the past game or two. In other words, they aren’t using their potential for that matter. They’ve been trotting out a line-up that features Harvey Carey, who is a black hole on offense in terms of how much offensive threat and defensive attention he can generate. Yes, he can slip through people underneath, and that’s his best trick, but in a title game? It is a risk, and one heck of a gamble. Here’s TNT’s most potent lineup, offensively speaking, and must play a huge part in the clincher:

G – Jayson Castro/Kevin Alas

G – Larry Fonacier

F – Ranidel De Ocampo

F – Ivan Johnson

F – Jay Washington/Kelly Williams

See, the thing with this position-less five, no true center, nor power forward in the vernacular sense, is that they can run 4-out-1-in sets and Horns set the other team to death. This tactic paved the way to exposing the RoS defense, no matter how vaunted their physicality is.

However, there’s just one problem: Jong Uichico intends on keeping the ball in Castro’s hand as an initiator of the offense until the last moment. All the damn time. I get it, we get it! Castro’s like Derrick Rose, needing the leather to function, but I think it’s better if Uichico mixes it up where The Blur can read defenses away from it, just to throw a steel chair at Yeng Guiao’s schemes. Take the ball out of Castro’s hands, work him off all over the floor, command the attention of the entire defense, but only for short bursts.

In the end, RoS will be left guessing: where will Castro cut? Where will he receive a pin-down? Or a down screen? Will he get a double stagger only to have three guys on him with two open guys waiting for a cherry picking? Those kinds of scenarios are pretty much what makes the brain toast. Pretty much how TNT ran them to the ground in Game 5.

What then must they do in order to use Castro like Kerr’s version of Stephen Curry? Let’s check one of the sets the Warriors run with Curry off the ball and put it in TNT’s championship hands. How about we start with that pretty simple 3-1 back screen:

3-1 back screen

As the diagram suggests, the 1-3 action, we have RoS heads swivelled on Castro, with the initiator of the offense, able to get a bee-line on the hoop for an easy backdoor deuce, as we like to call it. Pretty simple right? But wait, there’s more. Anticipating a complete denial of this, and TNT being TNT, it’s time to turn it into a misdirection play:

Misdirection play

That looks like an ugly pile up, but hey, Castro is still off the ball, so let’s continue:

Pin down

When they run the pin-down to pop the initiator, the screener immediately sets a seal to utilize all that space underneath to turn someone into barbecued chicken. TNT, however, will want Castro to end up with the ball, and end up with it they will get, or die trying:

BBQ Chix

We’ve seen how this can be finished. Being off the ball, Castro has chances to make a dive at the basket (which he will do), continue holding his post (and bury a three in the process), or grab the attention of almost three guys (his man, Fonacier’s and De Ocampo’s) to try and bump them off (what happens usually is RDO stabbing a three ball off a kick out). So this nifty little curl action to free him, and get a fourth and fifth guy on his radar to deny the drive was huge (pretty much how Ivan Johnson got some gimmes in Game 5):

game 5

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! TNT can throw in a Horns-y set that takes Castro off the ball, and has everyone zooming in on him, while he confuses and throws the D off their heels? Here’s how they should set it up:

how they should set

Isn’t it pretty simple to try and fake a hand-off while going for a pin-down that gives you an opportunity to abuse all the space when you are lightning-quick? But hey, more chaos ensues (and this messes up the entire effort of RoS):

Lightning Quick

Fonacier, one of the best two-way guards out there, has to make himself THE threat by going on a baseline sprint to the strong side via a double baselinecross- screen between Castro and RDO. At the same time, Johnson starts to make his way to the low block. Man, you must’ve thought: that’s messy, in a championship clincher? But wait… what is that?!


By all that is holy, Fonacier only served as a decoy, taking everyone’s attention. He’s a hand down-man down kind of guy, just so you know. But let’s focus on Castro. He got off the pin-down and all hell breaks loose:


As soon as Castro receives the ball, the back-screener of RDO has to double time to set up a quick Pick ‘N Pop to unclog the lane and expose the defense. Look at all the space they got here.

The Texters’ offense has to get supercharged by taking the ball off Castro’s hands for short bursts in the game. It will make him read the defense without the leather bouncing against his palm, letting the others set the table for their best weapon. That will definitely curb-stomp Rain or Shine’s title hopes.

Do it, and enjoy the champagne afterwards.

Fail, and they face a lot of what-ifs.

Stats are culled from Humblebola

1 Comment
  • Bruno Yanquiling

    Easier said and diagram than done. The only question is who will man the point aside from Castro? Coach Yeng is right. His team is facing a team in transition from DDO system which was inherited from Reyes’s days in the team to a half court setting team focused more on defense. You’re maybe right that Offense wins games but in a series, it’s defense that has the advantage. Coach Jong is a defensive coach that’s why TNT is not a fast-breaking team now. Although their running a DDO in most of their half court sets, they don’t intend to run after a defensive rebound or a steal. RoS has the same system as Coach Reyes’ TNT team. But Reyes mastered the DDO ahead of Yeng Guaio, that’s why they’re 17-0 before the championship series. Now, Coach Jong’s system heavily depend on three offensive players. Like Ildefonso-Seigle-Hontiveros, Hatfield-Caguioa-Helterbrand. And now with the help of Johnson he completed a big 3 again in Johnson-De Ocampo-Castro. But the problem is part of his Big three now has no dependable point guard subs to slide Castro in shooting guard. If only Labagala will be utilized (as Alas, Espiritu, Miller, and Ganuelas is not true point guard. They’re all, you’re right; offensive weapons). Only Labagala knows how to set plays in the entire TNT line up. TNT is too strong on offense but can’t fit to the system the new coach is implementing. The transition is smoothly taking place from last conference (Semis) to this conference (Finals). But one final piece is lacking for TNT to complete the transition. They need an offensive Center. They can acquire one in Tautuaa but they should decrease their offensive strength in the forwards and shooting guards position and acquire a true point guard. TNT’s current line up should be coached by Reyes using his DDO system to be effective. But because it’s now in transition to Coach Jong’s system, Coach Yeng maybe right that they have a chance for the title against a team in transition.


Calvin Abueva, Raymond Almazan cut from pool



SMART Gilas Pilipinas’ third session for the second leg of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers ended early on Monday evening.

Prior to the end of the practice, head coach Chot Reyes talked to team veterans Jayson Castro, Gabe Norwood, and June Mar Fajardo. The outspoken mentor told the seniors of the team that he is cutting Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan from the pool.

“The reason why we’re dropping Abueva and Almazan for the second window is because they haven’t showed up,” lamented Reyes.

“It’s already our third practice at hindi pa sila nagpapakita. It’s simply a matter of disinterest.

“I guess they’re not interested so we have to move on we can’t wait for those guys,” he pointed out.

Both Abueva and Almazan were part of the teams that competed in the 2017 SEABA Championship, the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, and the first window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Only 10 players from the pool showed up for the team’s third session. And with the second leg exactly one month away, Gilas cannot let a slip up happen especially against Australia.

“Aside from those two we don’t know where Matt Wright is, while Allein [Maliksi] is attending a wedding in Australia. Other than that it’s really just an issue of Calvin and Raymond if they don’t want to be a part of the pool.” expressed Reyes.

“That’s the reason we’re dropping them for the second window.”

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2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

23 for 2023 cadets fill up Gilas practice



With just 31 days until the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, only 10 players from the pool attended the team’s third session, Monday evening at the Meralco Gym.

Suiting up in the session presided over by Coach Chot Reyes were June Mar Fajardo, Gabe Norwood, Troy Rosario, Jio Jalalon, Mac Belo, Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, and Roger Pogoy. Carl Cruz and Jayson Castro were in attendance but were in street clothes.

Not present were Matthew Wright, Japeth Aguilar, and Allein Maliksi. Calvin Abueva and Raymond Almazan have yet to attend practice.

Joining the seniors team to prep them up for the World Cup Qualifiers were 10 players from the 23 for 2023 pool.

Ateneo Blue Eagle Matt Nieto attended his first Gilas practice. Joining him were teammates Isaac Go and Thirdy Ravena.

Completing the night’s cast were CJ Perez, Abu Tratter, Will Gozum, J-jay Alejandro, Arvin Tolentino, and Juan Gomez de Liano. Joshua Sinclair watched from the sidelines as he is still recovering from an ACL injury.

Gilas will take on Australia in Melbourne on February 22. The Philippine will then host Japan three days later at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

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San Beda fends off Letran for back-to-back wins



With seasoned setter John Carlo Desuyo steering the wheel to near perfection, the San Beda College romped to their second straight win.

The Red Spikers pulled double-digit outings from four players to upend archrival Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights, 19-25, 25-13, 25-21, 25-22, and register their fourth win of the season, Monday early evening at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

It was the Knights, however, who started on the right foot, overhauling a 4-10 deficit to snag the first set. Better passing from liberos Aljune Centeno and Johnsen Timbreza resulted in kills from captain Bobby Gatdula.

Nonetheless, San Beda picked up the service game in the next three sets to ultimately finish off the blue-shirts.

Despite the win-loss record they currently sport, the Red Spiker playmaker admitted that t

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Michael Calisaan tows Che’lu-San Sebastian past Perpetual



Photo by PBA Images

Michael Calisaan poured 20 points as he captained newcomer Che’Lu-San Sebastian Revellers to a decisive 83-70 win over the University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas to start their voyage, Monday evening at the Pasig City Sports Center.

Doing it all for the Revellers, the veteran forward provided the stability for his side as he shot 8-of-15 from the field while also hauling down nine rebounds, two assists, and two steals in the conference-opening win.

But it wasn’t all Calisaan as Che’Lu got contributions from all over its roster.

Samboy de Leon chimed in 16 markers and nine boards. RK Ilagan went 2-of-5 from threes to collect 13 points, eight dimes, and three rebounds, while big men Alfred Batino and Jeepy Faundo combined for 20 in the victory.

Despite the triumph, coach Stevenson Tiu gave all the praise to his players, noting the team’s lack of time preparing for the tourney.

“Nanalo kami dahil sa talent ng players. Medyo mali ko rin kasi nahirapan pa ako mag-adjust sa players. Hopefully, we play much better in the coming games,” he said.

The Revellers used a 16-4 run to finally break away from the Altas, taking a 77-60 lead with 4:03 to play as they punished their foes for their turnovers, turning Perpetual’s 30 miscues to 28 points in their favor.

Prince Eze anchored the Altas with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and seven blocks in their first game under new head coach Frankie Lim.

Che’lu-San Sebastian look to make it two in a row when they take on the Wangs-Letran Couriers on Monday, January 29 at 5:00pm. Perpetual, on the other hand, hope they can notch their first win when they take on Mila’s Lechon Mighty Roasters.

The Scores:

Che’lu-SSCR 83 — Calisaan 20, De Leon 16, Ilagan 13, Batino 10, Faundo 10, Bulanadi 6, Costelo 6, Calma 2, David 0, Lao 0, Santos 0, Valdez 0.

UPHSD 70 — Eze 15, Coronel 13, Villanueva 13, Jimenez 9, Charcos 7, Peralta 7, Gallardo 5, Pido 1, Antonio 0, Aurin 0, Tamayo 0, Tongco 0.

Quarterscores: 17-22, 34-38, 59-53, 83-70.

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